I get by with a little help

About a week ago, I launched my first-ever GoFundMe campaign.

While I would love it if you would have a look and make a contribution, this post is about the video I made for the campaign page. Because it was a bit of a disaster, at the start.

I’ve had a bit of actor’s training and have spent a little time in front of cameras in the distant past, but I am not that person anymore. My anxiety has gotten worse these past years, and my voice has gotten hoarse over the last few weeks. I’m also older than I used to be—go figure—and even before chronic illness and pain started stealing quite so much time, I wasn’t one to put a lot of effort into primping and styling.

What this means is that even though I awoke last Monday morning with genuine enthusiasm for making the campaign video, things fell apart fairly quickly.

I chose a backdrop of one of my bookcases, with lots of interesting writing craft and other titles on the shelves. I made mental notes of precisely what I wanted to say. I waited for just the right natural light in my office, and then was conscious of the passage of both time and the sun across the sky. I needed to work quickly if I wanted to keep the light consistent in the video; time was also of the essence when it came to making sure I wasn’t assaulted by curious felines while recording.

I shut my office door and hoped the wolf-dog wouldn’t start howling in the living room and that my partner wouldn’t feel the sudden need to run power tools inside the house—both happen more often than you’d think. And I had a limited window before one or more cats started scratching and wailing at the door, so I sat down and got started…

… And discovered I was suddenly camera-shy. I’ve always been an introvert and haven’t typically liked being photographed, but my anxiety spiked to alarming heights. My mouth was dry and I had an uncomfortable knot in my throat. There was a painful squeeze in my chest and I had trouble catching my breath. It’s no surprise that I had trouble remembering what I wanted to say on-camera, even with notes. Also, I discovered that I’d shut two of the cats inside the office with me, and one of them really, really wanted to leap into my lap or onto the keyboard in front of the camera. I gave myself more takes than I thought was strictly necessary and still didn’t end up with anything usable.

When I opened up my video editor, I was astonished by what I saw. Not the wrinkles and the graying hair; those are a familiar sight in the mirror. Instead, I was struck by how little of my personality was coming across on the screen. My voice was rough and flat. I could see the pain written on my face, and it wasn’t pretty. I worried that this was really how I am presenting to the world now.
In short, it was a tense experience that yielded no constructive results.

I needed to try again, and I had to figure out what to do differently. I asked my friend, Laurel Standley, to interview me on-camera. I figured that recording myself talking to a trusted friend would help me appear (and feel) more relaxed and would allow for some glimmer of my actual personality to come through. Thank goodness that worked.

Laurel was kind and patient as we sat outside the coffee shop where we normally meet to (try to) be awesomely productive on Tuesday mornings. I still wasn’t feeling great—I’d had a panic attack the night before and that morning had headache pain on top of other typical symptoms—but I looked a heck of a lot better than the day before. We laughed when we had to start again because cars drove by or when patrons stumbled onto our video shoot through the coffee shop’s side door. We got the entire thing done in a matter of minutes, and the results were decent enough that editing was quick and easy.

Vimeo managed to grab a still frame that makes me look like I have a palsy, and I’ve not yet invested any time in figuring out how to change that. It’s a low priority compared to everything else on my plate right now. But putting together the rest of the campaign—the intro text, rewards for contributors, and the like—was a breeze compared to that first video effort.

I will post again about this campaign to tell you about why I’m raising funds and how genuinely grateful I am to the people who have contributed. For now, though, I wanted to issue this public service announcement: Sometimes it’s hard; it’s okay to fail and to try again, and to ask a friend for help. That’s why I turned to crowdfunding to begin with—because there are some big and important things that I really cannot do alone.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral.

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